WHO KNEW?….A “former senior intelligence official with direct knowledge of the episode” tells the New York Times that lawyers within the clandestine branch of the CIA approved the destruction of those videotaped interrogations in 2005:

The former intelligence official acknowledged that there had been nearly two years of debate among government agencies about what to do with the tapes, and that lawyers within the White House and the Justice Department had in 2003 advised against a plan to destroy them.

….In describing the decision to destroy the tapes, current and former officials said John A. Rizzo, the agency’s top lawyer at the time, was not asked for final approval before the tapes were destroyed, although Mr. Rizzo had been involved in discussions for two years about the tapes.

….”Although unlikely, it is conceivable that once a C.I.A. officer got the answer he wanted from a D.O. lawyer, he acted on that advice,” said John Radsan, who worked as a C.I.A. lawyer between 2002 and 2004 and is now a professor at William Mitchell College of Law in Minnesota….Mr. Radsan added, “I’d be surprised that even the chief D.O. lawyer made a decision of that magnitude without bringing the General Counsel’s front office into the loop.”

Let me get this straight. The White House had been in the loop for two years. The CIA had received letters from both the Justice Department and congressional leaders arguing that the tapes shouldn’t be destroyed. The CIA’s top lawyer had been involved for the entire time. And yet we’re supposed to believe that, in 2005, a mid-ranking agency lawyer suddenly decided the tapes could be destroyed and the head of the clandestine branch then gave the order to do so without anyone else being involved? Really? Does anyone actually believe this story?